I remember. I remember my grandad with his big smile, warm eyes and hearty laugh. I remember asking him about the war - when I was too young to know the pain it had caused him - and he simply said, “I lost some friends.”
I remember learning from my father the many-layered truth. That my grandad could barely talk to his own son about the war because he had shut it all away somewhere deep inside. A necessary act in order for him to keep living, to be an incredible father to his four children, and a loving husband to my granny. That he was in a tank that was bombed and it was just one of the many ways he, “lost some friends”.
I remember how, after he died, (in his seventies) we learned many more details of his experiences in World War II as we sorted through the letters he had sent home, as well as his diaries.
It amazes me that he – who witnessed so much pain, suffering, and death – was able to be the warm, loving and jovial man that I was lucky enough to know as my grandad.
And so I will always remember.
For him – and for every man and woman who has given us the freedoms that we so often take for granted – each year on November 11th, I acknowledge their sacrifices, and give thanks.